AKRON, OH - In their last home appearance before a nine-game stretch on the road, the Akron Racers came out looking to remain undefeated against the Beijing Shougang Eagles on Wednesday evening. With a strong performance from starting pitcher Rachele Fico in the circle accompanied by a power surge at the plate, Akron (15-13) was able to pull out a 4-0 win over Beijing (1-21) at Firestone Stadium.
Fico threw a complete game shutout to earn her second win of the season and was named the Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game for her impressive display of pitching.
“She threw awesome and I think we’ve been waiting for that,” said Racers Field Manager Charlotte Morgan. “It was her first game throwing to (catcher) Shelby (Hiers) too, so I thought they did really well together and I was really happy with their pitch calling.”
With an errorless defense behind her, Fico dominated on the field, scattering only five hits as she struck out three Beijing batters.
“We made some big plays when we needed to,” said Fico. “My focus was just mixing quadrants in the zone, changing speeds, and letting my defense work.”
Fico and Eagle starter Li Qi locked into a scoreless pitchers’ duel deep into the game, until rookie outfielder Megan Geer stepped to the plate for Akron with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Geer powered through a 2-2 pitch, sending it over the fence in left-center field for the first home run of her NPF career. The clutch hit gave the Racers a 1-0 lead over the Eagles.
“You’re not going to get them every time, but I think the love for the game makes you want to be in that position,” Geer said of the chance to put Akron ahead. “To enjoy it and thrive in it, I think is why I’ve had such success.”
The Geer at-bat set the momentum for the Akron offense, as they displayed more power from the plate in the sixth inning. After the Eagles turned to Wang Lan in the circle, the Racers saw a double to the centerfield wall from shortstop Sami Fagan. On the play in, an error was made by Beijing shortstop Liu Li Li to move Fagan to third. Fagan continues to lead the league in doubles, with eight on the season. With a runner in scoring position, centerfielder Shellie Robinson stepped up to the plate with a line drive shot back past Lan for a single to score Fagan. In her first at-bat of the game, first baseman Sam Fischer-Cooke knocked a two-run home run over the right-center wall to bring the Racers lead up to a game final score of 4-0.
“I was watching the game as intense as if I was in the game the whole time,” Fischer-Cooke said about her time spent in the dugout. “I don’t want to go in there and waste the only at-bat that I have, so I wanted to make sure that I picked out the pitches that I should hit and could hit, and go after those.”
Fico stayed strong in the final inning to end the game for her team, allowing no base runners for Beijing in the seventh.
Akron (15-13) hits the road to play the USSSA Pride on Friday in Viera, Florida. The Racers will meet the Pride and Eagles in two games apiece while in Florida, before heading to Texas for series against the Scrap Yard Dawgs and the Texas Charge.
The Racers return to Firestone Stadium on July 25 to battle against the Pride with a first pitch scheduled at 7:05 p.m. For ticket information contact the Racers box office at 330-376-8188 or visit the team’s website at www.akronracers.org.
Game Time: 1:45
Vaultz Player of the Game: Rachele Fico
About the Akron Racers: The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. The Racers will celebrate their 16th season of play in 2017. The Racers competed in the Women's Pro Softball League (WPSL) for two seasons in 1999 and 2000 and in the NPF since 2004. Historic Firestone Stadium is home to the Racers and numerous amateur events at all levels of play.
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2004, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Akron Racers, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Scrap Yard Dawgs, Texas Charge and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2017 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.